List of things I hate #3


This is not an exhaustive list on the topic. In fact, it may be an inexhaustible topic. There are older lists of what I hate. So today’s post is merely my most recent list.

Which is notable because hatred is a process. Neurologists have proven that love and hate are closely related, and I have found it’s hard to hate a person unless I am also close to that person, and the same is true for a topic. In that vein, life is the process of expanding our love and our knowledge, and I suppose, our hate.

So here are some things that I have recently reached the point of thinking so much about that I feel qualified to hate them:

1. Sarcasm
The use of sarcasm is always inappropriate. Sarcasm reveals insecurity and cynicism — both things that make a person unlikable. Sarcasm is always negative in meaning, and the tone is always disparaging. On top of that, people who use sarcasm think they are being funny, but this is a poor man's humor; because comedy is about timing. You say it, then there's a beat, and then people laugh. With sarcasm, you say it, there's a beat when someone realizes you've said something you don't mean, and a beat to process what you did mean. The timing is off.

So comedians rarely use sarcasm because it's not funny. And top performers don't use sarcasm because it's mean.

2. Getting bids
If something is so important to you that you are spending enough time on it to collect bids, then you shouldn't get bids. Because if it's so important to you, give it to the person who will do the best job. And if you think you can swindle someone into “giving you a deal,” well, why do you think they're so good if they don't even get market price for their work?

If your project is important, find someone who has done it before, with someone who was great. And hire that person. You could get another bid, but the work would be different, right? And you should hire someone who does good work. And if everyone does the same work, then pricing can't be that varied — it's a commodity, priced the same across the board — so you don't need bids.

3. Maternity leave
It's not that I don't like the topic. I don't like that people think this is an area fraught with controversy. This is not a gray-area area. This is a right answer/wrong answer area.

Don't tell people you're pregnant if you're not showing. Hide the bump as long as possible. This is your right. And you have this explicit right because everyone knows that even though it's illegal, women are penalized when people hear they are pregnant. No one trusts they're coming back after the baby, so the project flow goes dry or gets boring.

Also, you do not need to know if you are coming back to work full time after the baby. Tell your employer you are. Change your mind later if you want. This is reasonable: no one could guess how they want to raise their kids until the kids are there.

Take paid maternity leave no matter what. It's your right. And the fastest way to post-partum depression is to take no time off to recuperate. (I know from my own experience.) So even if you quit when maternity leave is over, take paid leave. The US makes women earn maternity leave. You've earned it already. You don't need to work more after.

4. Pseudonyms
Here's what I read in Car and Driver magazine: The most popular name for upscale strippers to use is Lexus. Do you know what this tells you? Pseudonyms are for strippers.

If you're being your real self, doing things that bring you self-respect, why have a pseudonym? And if you don't want to claim what you are doing as your own work, ask yourself why you are doing it.

Here is a post about how using a pseudonym made my life a mess. And here's a post about pseudonyms undermine your career, which is ironic since people are usually thinking they need a pseudonym to save their career.

5. Lack of hate
My son came home from preschool and told me that using hate is against the rules. I told him that discerning people hate things, and I encouraged him to think of something he hates. (Bowser, a bad guy in Super Mario, for those who are curious.)

Recognizing that we each love and we each hate is part of the process of knowing ourselves. Talking about it is part of the process of letting other people know us as well.

196 replies
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  1. Irina I
    Irina I says:

    I so agree with #1. I used to be very sarcastic and worked hard to eradicate that from my life when I started my first job. Result? People actually liked me. Great advice.

  2. Rob
    Rob says:

    I was fine with this until the last point. I work as a moderator and support person for an online game. (Yes, this is a real job, no, it is not what you expect when you hear about it.) Our moderation staff use handles that are seperate from our play accounts. This is not the way a lot of moderation is handled, for instance on Xbox Live, where the moderators play on the same handles.

    And you know what? The secret way is better. I fought for more transparency for years. And now we have it, I can tell people who I actually am. But I don’t. Customers are crazy. I am not afraid of being attacked by name, or whatever. I am more concerned with distancing the service I give from some random guy that beat me in a game and feels like I am holding a grudge, and won’t give me the account details I need to fix his issue as a result. (Yes, this has happened a number of times when our system was a bit different.) Sometimes anonymity serves a purpose. Not all the time, but enough of the time that I don’t mind it cropping up here and there.

  3. Alanna
    Alanna says:

    The that confuses me is that telling kids not to use the word hate won’t actually stop them from hating things. It will just make them uncomfortable expressing their feelings.

    • Fred
      Fred says:

      I had never thought of this. Very insightful comment… Something I’ll think about next time I’m talking to my kids about hate.

    • JL Thomas
      JL Thomas says:

      It’s not about hiding their feelings. It’s about using proper language to express their feelings. The problem is adults being hypocritical… don’t do as I do.

  4. S. Mann
    S. Mann says:

    Penelope, to put it quite simply, you are my hero. On most occasions, your post is a bright spot in my day. So thanks for your straight-forward, to-the-point honesty.


  5. Rob
    Rob says:

    I wouldn’t put much stock in that Independent article: it seems a case of the media grossly exaggerating the findings of a scientific study. It showed the brain uses some of the same parts for love and for hate, but it also acknowledges there are pretty substantial differences in the *other* parts each process uses. It would be akin to saying that essay-writing and equation-solving are closely linked because they both use pencil and paper (or, on a neurological level, both use the nerves connected to the hand, etc.). The differences are much greater than the similarities.

  6. Isao
    Isao says:

    “I have found it’s hard to hate a person unless I am also close to that person, and the same is true for a topic.” This is so true. Thank you, this is my revelation for today or even this month.

  7. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth says:

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with this line, P: “And if you don't want to claim what you are doing as your own work, ask yourself why you are doing it.”

    Fear of misinterpretation or misjudgement?

    I struggle with this advice of yours more than anything. I fully subscribe to accommodating your boss’ idiosyncracies (if poss.), making their life easier, listening well, reflective listening, navigating the political battlefield, etc. I equate all of these to a form of constantly changing your opinions/attitudes based on what you are facing. This can inevitably grow your network/career.

    Once you put something down in black and white, however, it is there as a record of ‘what you think’ rather than a record of ‘a thought you had.’ Readers that follow you for ages may understand that it was passing or fluid, but an employer or distant mentor could look at that and completely misjudge your stance or capabilities.

    I like the ability to accommodate the person I am trying to pitch myself to. If my transient thoughts are associated with my name, then I feel as though it could compromise that ability.

    • Dana
      Dana says:

      “Once you put something down in black and white, however, it is there as a record of ‘what you think’ rather than a record of ‘a thought you had.'”


      I think your insight applies to conversation too. Spoken comments may not be remembered as easily but people always seem to pick up on others inconsistencies. I edit myself so much simply because I fear that people create a quick snapshot of who we are based on just a few things. Those things aren’t permanent- although many people expect them to be and they look at you with a furrowed brow and revel in pointing out contradictions. I feel like my beliefs are constantly changing- only my closest friends can keep up.

    • Gerty
      Gerty says:

      Had a look at the link.

      Laughing at the fact he hates bagels and they also happen to be one of Penelope’s favorite foods to eat.

      Here is the excerpt for those not bothered to click on link –

      “Bagels. I don’t how stupid Americans started liking bagels in the late 90s, but allow me to mock you and condemn the ABSURD ACT OF EATING PLAIN BREAD WITH NO TOPPING OR TOASTING. My favorite bagels are the 12-for-$2 bagels that you get in the grocery store–the ones you actually TOAST and put cream cheese on. Yet unbelievable amounts of people will go order plain bagels (or sesame, or whatever) and just EAT THEM PLAIN!!!!! Perhaps I’m blowing this out of proportion but I can’t remember ever seeing someone walk into a Safeway, buy a loaf of bread, then casually eat it while walking around on the street, hands in pockets, whistling, all the while moaning in pleasure for how “mmmmmm good” it is. I hate you, bagels.”

  8. angeltattoo
    angeltattoo says:

    Hi there, well I’m tired of some of the unrealistic ways I’ve heard people talk to their kids and I love what you told your son about hate. I’ve heard some people tell their kids not to say “…’hate’, it’s a bad word”, the real problem is if the kid focuses more on his negative feelings instead of his or her positive feelings. I mean you want your kids to be balanced and realistic.

  9. Trey Smith
    Trey Smith says:

    That’s pretty much the same to anybody. There are more things we hate about but that’s just the common ones. Simple words yet so true.

  10. TheHRD
    TheHRD says:

    You take sarcasm away from the Brits and they have nothing left to say to one another. It is a tool that is misused, but in my opinion should never be used to hurt. A lot of sarcasm is self depreciating, but importantly there are cultural differences in the use and acceptance. I would never use with people from other nations unless I knew them very well, but when I am with my people it is second nature and accepted.

  11. J
    J says:

    I hate maternity leave too, but for hugely different reasons [I’m a woman, by the way]

    This is why it is a controversy, at least for me.

    1. Breeding isn’t compulsory, or in fact even eco-friendly these days.

    2. I don’t intend to breed therefore am entitled to nothing.

    3. It annoys and offends me, that my lack of contribution to the general over-population of the planet is punished.

    4. I would like some sort of 6-8 month allowance for non-breeders to also explore their own personal life choices.

    5. But this is never going to happen.

    6. I can’t leave work to do something I want to do, while still getting paid, while you, on maternity leave can. [ie. that is, to have your baby, something you must want for yourself, becuase no one else wants your baby].

    And its definitely not fair, and it annoys the heck out of me.

    • Elizabeth
      Elizabeth says:


      As someone who has always looked at maternity leave as a right, and something I look forward to taking someday, I have never thought about it this way.

      Thanks for the heads-up. You got both me and my husband chatting about it.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I love this comment. And I love your solution in your #4 point. It could be for men and women too. But I guess it is a logistical nightmare. I mean, how do you keep track of who takes it, etc.

      So I wonder, does anyone have other solutions? This problem rings totally true to me, and it is fascinating to me.


      • Ed Barrientos
        Ed Barrientos says:

        I think it all equals out over time. If someone takes 4 months off work, for whatever reason, they probably will come back competitively at a disadvantage vis-a-vis their co-wokers. They would have missed 4 months worth of opportunities to advance. Yes, they may have still gotten paid, but they were out for 4 months! Lot’s of missed opportunities to excel/advance that are very difficult to ever make up.

      • Marc KS
        Marc KS says:

        Maternity/Paternity leave in Canada is managed through the same governmental office that does unemployment insurance.

        A married (or common law) couple in Canada can split the 9 months available for new baby leave. It is managed quite easily. New baby = 9 months of benefits, you have to apply for your mat/pat leave benefits (which is easy) and tell them when you are coming off of leave. If the mother uses 6 months then the father takes some pat leave EI knows that 6 months of that babies EI has already been taken. Both parents can’t take leave at the same time however (EI will only pay benefits to one person at a time).

        It’s actually super common that fathers end up taking some pat leave with a new baby – especially in cases where the mother has a higher income.

      • Mark W.
        Mark W. says:

        I love the first line in Ed Barrientos’s comment – “I think it all equals out over time.” It is sage advice.

        When life is not fair (which is often the case), my analysis of the situation usually boils down to the above.

      • Kena
        Kena says:

        There are ways to make parental leave work for both parents. In Quebec (Canada), parents are allowed one-year of partial pay (about 70%, but it depends on a bunch of things) parental leave, to be shared between both parents (so one parent can take the whole year, or both parents can take six months together, or split it any way they see fit).

        It’s government-managed, like unemployment benefits, and it works wonderfully well. Since the program’s introduction, it created a much needed natality boost, and allows us to keep smart, educated women in the workforce, after a reasonable hiatus. Of course, it’s a much more “socialist” way of thinking childrearing, but that’s one of the ways you can make it work.

    • Alisha
      Alisha says:

      I see your point, but look at it this way. If no one had kids, there would be no next generation to carry on. When you’re retired, who will pay taxes for roads and other services, or run businesses, or grow and prepare food? Maybe “no one wants your baby” specifically, but society needs at least some people to reproduce; hence, maternity (and paternity) leave are in everyone’s best interest. Children are the future–it’s a cliche because it’s true. One of the problems with China’s one child policy is that there aren’t enough young people to support the aging population.

      Also, I just want to add that maternity leave isn’t really comparable to a sabbatical or exploration of personal life choices in one sense–it’s putting in a lot of work to raise the next generation to support the current one, including yourself.

      • J
        J says:

        “maternity leave isn’t really comparable to a sabbatical or exploration of personal life choices in one sense – €“it’s putting in a lot of work to raise the next generation to support the current one, including yourself.”

        – I don’t really agree.

        – It’s quite hard to prove or quantify how one life choice is more valuable than another.

        – Do you have some kind of object measure that can rate various kinds of choices?

        – If you think raising and having kids is invaluable that’s fine, if that’s what you want. (‘You’ being the highlighted word.)

        – So its not so unreasonable to expect the same tolerance for what I may want to do.

        – This kind of statement is however, a very typical one for a parent to make: it seems a little self-involved.

        – Your children may support you, but my taxes and pension, health insurance will probably support me.

        – The side effect of China’s one child policy was that males were kept and females aborted or abandoned. And while this did impact the population, so do lower mortality rates.

        – So we still have a huge population steadily growing however you look at it and only limited resources.

        – I’m not advocating that no-one have children. I saying I want some equality across the board. San-kids or with kids.

        – And I’m not saying the situation will change. The economy couldn’t handle it.

        – But I just don’t think that’s either right or equal.

      • Alisha
        Alisha says:

        I don’t disagree that it would be nice for everyone to have time off to explore their interests. I felt the same way you did before a friend pointed out this out to me–what I was trying to say is that from a strictly utilitarian perspective, society needs children. You may have a pension, etc., to support yourself when you grow older, but if no one had children, you wouldn’t even have basic necessities such as food–no farmers, no one to run stores, and so on. A pension doesn’t do any good if there aren’t any goods to buy with it, and health care is useless if there are no health care providers in the next generation. This is exactly the problem in China, regardless of the gender imbalance that has resulted–the workforce is starting to retire, and there aren’t enough people to take their place.

        It would be nice if we could figure out some way to allow everyone similar opportunities, but in the meantime, when I look at the next generation as a necessity for basic societal functions, not a luxury, it makes me a little less upset about the whole thing. Someone needs to have children, even if it isn’t you or me.

    • Heidi
      Heidi says:

      In my experience, you earn maternity leave, as you would earn a sick day. I don’t know anyone who just gets to take leave and get paid without earning their time.

      So basically, anyone can do it.

    • WB
      WB says:

      No need to hate/envy the breeders: Several companies provide unpaid sabbaticals for employees. You can check out Fortune 500 Best Companies to Work for, to get more information.

    • Liza
      Liza says:

      This comment reminds me of ‘Sex In The City’ when Carrie goes to her friends’ Daughter’s birthday party. They demand she take her $400 (?) pair of shoes off and then they disappear at the end of the night.

      Carrie demands the host replace the shoes, since she didn’t want to take them off in the first place..Her friend doesn’t want to (she has a ‘family’ and can’t afford to..)

      In the end, Carrie decided that she had given engagement party gifts, wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, children’s birthday gifts, etc. to her married/family friends and that it was her time to receive gifts-assuming she won’t get married or have kids.

      She sends the friend an announcement of celebrating her single life (something like that..), she puts a gift registry on it and the only item on the registry are said shoes that disappeared at the birthday party.

      Way to stick it to the breeders..In short, single, non-parents don’t get to lavish in the gift giving of marriage and family..So go easy on ’em. :D

    • Tonya
      Tonya says:

      I couldn’t agree more – I am so tired of covering for women/men on mat/paternity leave…and I don’t get any extra time off, tax breaks etc. because I am a ‘non-breeder’.

  12. Mariane
    Mariane says:

    very well said, especially #1, 2# and 5# hit home with me but agree with the other points as well.

    I have an especially short fuse for saracasm, for all the above mentioned points, however need to learn not to be to explosive and explisit as I actually DO roll out the whole list from time to time and it is not too constructive … any hints? (counting to 10 does not really work, walking away does make me feel better but it does not make this unconstructive behaviour stop…)”thanx!

  13. melanie gao
    melanie gao says:

    Is #2 about re-designing your blog to remove all the BC references? Because I think you really do need quotes for that. Blog re-design isn’t a commodity. And you don’t have to pick the lowest bid – just get the best one.

    But I love your creative excuse for not doing it. I think that took more effort than actually getting the quotes. :)

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Ha! You are so right, Melanie! I didn’t want to gets bids. The process annoyed me. It’s also about my fantasy life of remodeling the Farmer’s kitchen. It does not include the extra work of getting bids.


  14. Jim C.
    Jim C. says:

    I have to differ with you on pseudonyms. There are perfectly valid reasons to use them. Sometimes people have multiple careers going and don’t want one to affect the other. Isaac Asimov was a prominent biochemist who also wrote juvenile (now called “young adult”) science fiction. He used the pen name “Paul French” for the juvies, so that someone doing a search in, say, Books in Print would find his stuff on proteins but wouldn’t find “David Starr, Space Ranger.” Later on, after he had made his reputation, he used his own name for his science fiction books, popular science articles, and humorous essays. But during the 1940’s he built his “brand” as Paul French without affecting his scientific career.
    I myself work for a government agency, and I am also writing a novel. When I publish it, I won’t use my real name. That would reveal too much about my attitude toward some of the people I am forced to work with (government employees, corporate managers, and politicians) and would probably poison the well at work.

  15. Gray Rod
    Gray Rod says:

    Re:#5. Lack of hate. Throughout cultures and religion, we have been taught to diminish hatred in our lives and in our system. To hate goes against the laws that we were brought to believe and follow. But to hate IS natural and the stress that it creates when we try to shun the existence of it draws more problems and conflict, within oneself and others.

  16. Simarc
    Simarc says:

    hmm….granted. You had chosen quite a good topics which really not maximum but many people might hate it. Although hate and love is part of life, I had found maximum of the peoples hate the life they are living, no matter if it is involved with their education, careers, life partner, life style, and on and on and on…

  17. RickSmithAuthor
    RickSmithAuthor says:

    My guess is that u are pissed at someone at work who is sarchastic, but you don’t want to call him out directly (it’s a guy), so you buried it a bit in a longer post. Close?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      No one at my office is sarcastic. And, are you kidding? I never shy away from writing about my office problems in my blog. People at work know that’s part of working with me :)


  18. Ben
    Ben says:

    “I told him that discerning people hate things…”
    Amen, and it’s not just discerning people; it’s moral people, too.

    “On top of that, people who use sarcasm think they are being funny, but this is a poor man's humor; because comedy is about timing.”
    Sarcasm (like shock) is typically a lazy person’s excuse for humor. But let’s not forget the brilliant exceptions like Bill Murray. Litotes are a form of sarcasm that usually work well, too.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Jim, you are SO COOL to be giving video game advice on my blog. And I am gonna be the best mom when I go home and tell my kids I know this. Thanks.


  19. TwistedByKnaves
    TwistedByKnaves says:

    1. Yes (though I’m not sure about the timing)
    2. Not here: talking to tradesmen you don’t know about pricing can tell you a lot about their attitude to the job. Getting bids also helps you resist the salesman’s pressure to sign up NOW.
    3. Yes. Also paternity leave.
    4. Yes. An internet opinion is (a) too easy and (b) pointless if you won’t stand out in the open to be counted.
    5. No. Though closely linked, hatred and love are not two sides of the same coin. It’s OK to be passionately positive without hating. But very rare – I wouldn’t get hung up on it.

  20. Jeffrey Luke
    Jeffrey Luke says:

    Love #2. I hate getting bids. If you base a job on price alone, someone always loses – and sometimes it’s you. I have a small circle of vendors who I trust, and I use them. It saves me time, and I always get a quality performance. Trust is good.

  21. Gretchen Seefried
    Gretchen Seefried says:

    I’d have to agree with Rob. Hero status for you for telling it like it is. And that word ‘discerning’ is such an important one when it comes to analyzing humor and hate.

    First thing I read this AM and made me glad that I cheated on myself after swearing I wouldn’t go right to my inbox before writing myself!

  22. Anna
    Anna says:

    Could you please provide a link to where it says that Americans have a right to paid maternity leave? Because I’m under the impression that we only have the right to unpaid leave, and even then, under stipulations.

  23. Melanie
    Melanie says:

    I a bit confused on #3 – most women are given maternity leave but not paid leave. The majority of the women I know are given the 3-6 months off where they are allowed to come back to their job afterwards but it is unpaid leave. My company allows you to used your own vacation time as part of the leave if you would like to get paid.

  24. Kyle Byrd
    Kyle Byrd says:

    There are surely things that I hate, but I choose to focus on the things I love which makes my every day much happier. Which I’m still pondering happy vs. interesting. I think I would choose happy, but how about both?!? :-)

  25. Raven
    Raven says:

    I will have to learn how to manage #1. I tend to be sarcastic and self-deprecating, so maybe that’s why I don’t have any friends. Ok, not true. I have friends. Real ones. I like this post – I never thought much about maternity leave, since I haven’t had kids. However, what I hate? People who only talk about their kids at work. Also, these same people seem to have an aversion to anybody who is not a parent. Weird. I’ve run into this more times than I care to admit. And then I think, sheesh, what was this person like before they had brats?

    • Barb
      Barb says:

      Maybe they can pick up on the fact that you think kids are brats and don’t want to be around you.

  26. JC
    JC says:

    I’ve tried hard to figure out what I hate over the past week, and I remembered that I hated something once. I can’t remember what it is.

    Hate isn’t for discerning people. It’s for inflexible people. When you learn to deal with life as it comes, you stop hating what makes it difficult.

    To be sure, that doesn’t mean there are things I dislike. There are, and it’s a decent list. Hatred connotates something you would go off into a spitting rage about. Do you hate people who use sarcasm, or are you simply resentful?

    Do you hate pseudonyms, or simply find them weak and chafing to hear?

    If I am sarcastic to you, and you kick me in the nuts. You hate sarcasm. Alternatively, if you give me a look and make note of it without mentioning it… you probably do not hate it.

  27. Kristin Mattews
    Kristin Mattews says:

    Sarcasm it is…as the old saying goes, jokes are half meant. Often times when you can’t handle a situation, then here comes sarcasm. A guilty person here! At least knowing your guilty is an improvement right? Next thing is change…:>

  28. Jenn
    Jenn says:

    As someone said earlier Hate and love are a two sided coin. I work hard to not use the word love too much and I work hard not to hate too much. Hate is very strong word in our house and I do discourage its use as well as using the word love too often. There are other words you can use to express your feelings better then love and hate.

  29. Brad
    Brad says:

    Jon Stewart is one of the most sarcastic bastards around, and he’s also Gen Y’s #1 news source. If sarcasm is done well, it works.

    • David Rosen
      David Rosen says:

      People tune-in to Jon Stewart and are ready and expecting his sarcasm. It flows out of my mouth pretty much without thinking about it. I use in if I am in a group of people who are gathered but aren’t saying a word about anything. Unfortunately, those type of people are usually the least likely to get the sarcasm. So, it’s probably a good idea not to be sarcastic.

  30. Tim Lincoln
    Tim Lincoln says:

    Great post, Penelope. I do have a question, though. Regarding #4, what is the best way to STOP using a pseudonym? I have a screen name (aka pseudonym) that I have used online for the better part of ten years. Initially it was because of a fear of too much personal information being available online, but now just about anyone who knows my screen name also knows my real name or can easily find out what my real name is.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of people who know me online, and whom I interact with on a daily basis, associate me with that screen name. I have unintentionally created a small brand around it, if you will. Certainly nothing the likes of Nike or Pepsi (or Penelope Trunk), but it is enough that it may cause some confusion for a while if I were to stop using the screen name and use my real name exclusively.

    Is it worth it to make a sudden shift from the screen name I have been using to my real name and hope that everyone I interact with can keep up? Is it enough that my real name is easily available to anyone that wants it when I am communicating under the screen name? People who know me well should have no trouble with the adjustment. However, those who do not know me as well, who are asking for my help, explanations, or advice may not be able to make the adjustment easily or quickly. Unfortunately the latter group outnumbers the former in most of the venues in which I communicate online, and I am hesitant to cause confusion among people who are just looking for some assistance.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This is a great comment for everyone who thinks they need a pseudonym to read. This is SUCH a common problem. And I had it, too. I elected to take my pseudonym as my real name, and now everyone in my life (even my brothers) calls me Penelope. But that’s probably more extreme than you want to go. So I would say it’s probably time to get rid of the pseudonym. You may lose people now, but it will help you long term.


      • Tim Lincoln
        Tim Lincoln says:

        Thanks again, Penelope. It would be more amusing than useful for me to take the screen name that I use as my real name (though to be honest, I have seen people legally change their name to some pretty strange names). I am going to begin using my real name as much as possible, and hopefully find ways to minimize any resulting confusion as much as possible.

  31. Mo
    Mo says:

    The thing about maternity leave is that we are in the transition period. Eventually the answer to why somebody who has a baby gets maternity leave and you don’t get a personal growth leave will be “your mother got a maternity leave when you were born, didn’t she.” But for now all people can see is somebody “gaming the system” for extra benefits.

  32. Erin
    Erin says:

    What is this earned maternity leave you speak of? Federal employees don’t earn it; they hobble together vacation time and sick leave, then beg their co-workers to donate leave to them.

    I’m currently a grad student and will probably be a post-doc after this. We don’t even earn sick leave or vacation time. I can take time off if my boss agrees, which most do, but there’s no guarantee of that. Paid maternity leave? Hells no.

  33. Jens Fiederer
    Jens Fiederer says:

    “Oh, you are really such a pretty one.
    I see you’ve gone and changed your name again.
    And just when I climbed this whole mountainside,
    to wash my eyelids in the rain!”

    (Leonard Cohen)

  34. LPC
    LPC says:

    Penelope, putting something out to bid doesn’t mean you have to give it to the lowest bidder. But it is a way of checking market pricing for services that don’t have price stickers on them, don’t get sold on Amazon.

  35. Readmylist
    Readmylist says:

    This post is at odds with me, because I have difficulty hating. I was raised to think of the word as one so full of malice that it became virtually unusable. I generally say I don’t like something, or more typically that I don’t agree.

    I also am not prone to emotional extremes in the first place. To muster enough feeling to outright hate something is difficult. I usually try to find a way to understand someone’s behavior.

    Perhaps once I graduate college (in a week) and enter the cutthroat job world I’ll find someone or something to hate. But I hope not.

  36. catherine
    catherine says:

    I would take paid maternity leave if there were such a thing. Most people I know don’t get paid for their maternity leave so it’s more a financial decision than a career decision not to take it. I am currently pregnant and when I give birth in a month, I will get paid for the vacation and sick leave I have saved up and only 5 weeks of short term disability which I had to opt into and pay for myself.

  37. priscilla
    priscilla says:

    penelope, i love this post, especially the part about love/hate. i’m gonna throw it out there that the maternity leave issue deserves a whole separate post. as someone who is about to have a baby, i’m psyched that my husband is getting 4 weeks of paid paternity leave. it seems a bit excessive to me, but then i found out it’s the same amount they give to women for maternity leave and i was shocked it was so low.

    there are so many issues here – parents who adopt being given some maternity/paternity leave, addressing the issue of people who never want to have kids and want their fair equivalent of work privileges. i’d love to see your comprehensive thoughts on this as i’m just starting to flush it out in my mind.

  38. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    As someone above said, sarcasm is totally acceptable in the UK and Ireland. Take that away, and you disable some of the best comic geniuses the Brits/Irish have! It has nothing to do with timing, but rather with culture.

  39. DN
    DN says:

    Hope this doesn't come across the wrong way, but I wonder if Asperger's might be part of the reason you hate sarcasm, Penelope.

    I've never been diagnosed with Asperger's or anything, but I know I have a very tough time reading social cues in conversation. Social cues are so important with sarcasm, because it's the only way to know if a person is being serious or sarcastic.

    My best girlfriend and my husband are both very sarcastic people, but I love them because they were the first people who were actually kind enough to tell me when they were being sarcastic and I didn't understand. I think I've gotten a lot better at reading sarcasm in other people from being around them through the years, which is a valuable life skill. Even after almost a decade together, I still sometimes can't tell if my husband is being sarcastic or not, but he always tells me if I seem confused and never gets impatient with me. That, to me, is true love.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Good point, DN. I think that people with Asperger’s do have a harder time with sarcasm. So that’s why I did a little extra research — to see if I’m totally in left field just because I don’t understand it. But I think both are true: I personally do not understand a lot sarcasm when it happens, but also, a lot of sarcasm is simply not nice.


  40. Laura
    Laura says:

    Sarcasm is not for work, for the most part, but it can be a huge release in awkward or tense work situations. Also some of the funniest comedians do use it to outstanding results (Jerry Seinfeld pops up immediately in my head). On the hate thing, I’m with you 99% – it is healthy and needed there are things we hate and not just dislike or not agree with. Having said that, Bowser rocks, and having a spiny turtle shell sometimes DOES help.

  41. Kathleen
    Kathleen says:

    Atypically, I disagree with nearly everything you said.

    Re: Sarcasm. Many autistics don’t like sarcasm because it frustrates them, they don’t discern it; it’s a social skill -an evolutionary survival skill.

    Getting bids: I think I understand your underlying objection to getting bids, namely that one can use the process to leverage competing parties against each other and trying to get more for less than the reputable value. Yes, go with the best person for the job, always. I think what you dislike is that the issue of the bidding process is that many people use it as a wedge to try to get more for less, playing people off each other. It’s a grave mistake to judge the process (bidding) with a common product (outcome: leveraging).

    Done mindfully, getting bids is the best thing anyone can do for themselves. Whether formally or informally, a bid involves a statement of work (SOW) which is an educational process. If you’re hiring someone to do a job, chances are excellent you don’t know all of the options or processes involved otherwise you’d be doing it yourself or would already know who to hire and as such, would never need bids.

    The bid process -itemized- educates you as to the range of options and possible solutions available. In many respects, it amounts to a free consulting session. If one bidder doesn’t mention a given aspect the others do, it could mean that bidder isn’t as adept at understanding the challenges of the job and should be dropped from consideration. Bidding is an excellent way to determine the qualifications of a given provider as compared to their peers. Bidding should be about competencies and price is a poor determination of it. In my industry, it is usually the least qualified with the highest total costs. Through qualified bidding, it is easier to discern the total cost of ownership of the job if it includes a statement of work with timelines, accountability etc.

    Love and hate are two forms of caring. The opposite of love is ambivalence, not hate. Caring vs not caring. I don’t know if it is truly possible to hate someone if you do not or have not loved them. Many people are actually ambivalent, not hate-filled. We use the word “hate” when we mean “dislike”. Unlike love and hate, like and dislike are opposites.

    Speaking of dislikes, I dislike psuedonyms. It’s a way of failing to take ownership of what you are. It’s not authentic.

    • Colin
      Colin says:

      I couldn’t agree more about your comments on bids. Thinking that bids are unnecessary because you know and love your work might be an indicator that your knowledge is so deep that all you need is some extra hands, but odds are that someone else has insights about how to get the same results in a different and compelling way. If you don’t ask, you won’t find that out.

  42. Anita
    Anita says:

    To all of you parent haters that think it’s so unfair that new parents get maternity leave plese be reminded that anyone taking time off work for children lose out on work. It is a known fact that women lose out on their careers all the time because of the time and energy it takes to raise children. Many opt for flex time, part time etc. after having children because of the energy it takes to raise children. Look at your paycheque in five years compared to your friend that had a baby and trust me yours will be bigger. You want to take time off for your ‘life choices?’ go ahead. Not only will you have missed career opportunities but you will be out of the loop while you are out studying your navel. (which is what all us parents are doing on our paid maternity leave)

    Having children and paid meternity leave is not career advancement. What’s fair about that?

  43. John Lawton
    John Lawton says:

    So you can’t use sarcasm because it is mean, but hate is OK?

    Sarcasm is occasionally appropriate for emphasis or effect, just as profanity is.

    Excessive sarcasm is as ugly as excessive profanity.

  44. Courtney
    Courtney says:

    I’m a fan of sarcasm and hope that I don’t use it in a mean way but I’m going to be conscious of it now.

    The real reason I felt the need to comment is Mat Leave! I am Canadian and we get one year paid here across the country (not at 100% but we get bi-weekly income) with the option of Pat leave for the dads! In Quebec we’re even pushing for 1.5 years! I have a good friend in Chicago that recently had a child and ended up quitting cause she didn’t feel right going back to work so quickly and leaving her new born. Considering the limited time you get in the US I’m with Penelope, Use it!

  45. Emily
    Emily says:

    I never thought about sarcasm in that way. Totally makes sense. And a big “yes” on maternity leave and telling management you’ll be back for sure. You never know what might happen (or how much you can stand staying home). Great list! (I hate Bowser too…)

  46. Darryl Zide
    Darryl Zide says:

    I agree that hate is a part of life and should be explained to our little ones. I too have a preschooler and I explained that it’s ok to hate somethings, but there are things that we as civilized people should not harbor as hate, such as race, creed and color.

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